Tuesday, October 16, 2012

‘Post 2002 riots, Muslims still fear persecution in Gujarat’

Says US state dept report; expresses concern over slow pace of bringing 2002 violence perpetrators to justice

A US report on international religious freedom has expressed concern over the slow pace of proceedings in punishing the perpetrators of the 2002 post-Godhra riots, and said that many Muslims in the state still fear persecution.
The US state department, in The International Religious Freedom Report for 2011, said that civil society activists continued to express concern over Gujarat government’s failure to arrest those responsible for the 2002 violence.
“Media reports indicate that some Muslims still fear repercussions from Hindu neighbours as they wait for court cases to be resolved,” the report says.
Devoting a considerable portion in its India section to the 2002 riots, the report also expressed concern over the slow pace of bringing perpetrators of 2002 violence in Gujarat to justice.
The report claimed that several riot victims have accused the Supreme Court-appointed SIT of pressurising them to dilute their statements.
“In many cases tried in Gujarat’s lower courts, the accused were acquitted due to a lack of evidence or changes in testimony. Three of nine major cases stemming made partial progress during the year,” it pointed out.
“Hundreds of other cases stemming from the 2002 violence (which were not in the purview of SIT) remained unsettled,” the report said.
The report claimed that despite the Congress-led national government’s rejection of Hindutva, several BJP-ruled states continued to be influenced by the ideology. It said that some states passed laws based on Hindu beliefs that restrict religious freedom of minority groups.
The report mentioned the cow slaughter Bill passed by Gujarat government in September 2011. It also spoke about similar laws in Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu & Kashmir.
“Critics argue that such laws deprive Muslims, Christians and lower castes of livelihoods, a source of nutrition and the right not to observe Hindu religious restrictions,” it said.
The report also pointed out active anti-conversion laws in five states, including Gujarat.